By today’s standards, Space Station X-1 would seem kind of boring or lame but in 1955 you may have heard it described as amazing. When the gates opened on July 17, 1955 it was only one of three attractions/exhibits in an unfinished Tomorrowland. The concept of the exhibit was to view the Earth from a Space Station that was orbiting miles above the planet. After entering through a ticket booth where Spaceman K-7 was selling tickets for ten cents or accepting an “A” ticket to ride, visitors walked through a tunnel into the exhibit.
Once through the tunnel you entered a platform with viewing windows where you could see the Earth below. You journey began on the East Coast at sunrise and ended on the West Coast at sunset. In between you could see the mountains and plains of the United States as it passed by on a curved rotating canvas. Disney Legends Claude Coats and Peter Ellenshaw were responsible for the painting of the canvas since photos from space were not available yet. Some of the cool features of the painted canvas was a billowing forest-fire, night-time city lights, clouds that moved over the surface and the walls had pin holes that made it appear as if you were looking out into space.
In 1958, after the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1 was launched the ride was updated with new information about what the Earth looked like from above. It was renamed Satellite View of America. This wasn’t enough to spark the interest of Disneyland visitors and the ride closed on February 17, 1960. The Art of Animation, an exhibit to promote upcoming Disney movies replaced Satellite View of America.
If you visited Disneyland anytime from 1955-1960 and had the chance to see Space Station X-1 or Satellite View of America I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Smith, Dave. Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia. 5th ed., Los Angeles / New York, Disney Editions, 2016.
Strodder, Chris. The Disneyland Encyclopedia: the Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom. 2nd ed., Solana Beach, CA, Santa Monica Press, 2012.